WOMAN LAUNCHES £1m CLAIM OVER KARATE KICK INJURY
Copyright 2002 The Press Association Limited
February 19, 2002, Tuesday
BYLINE: Emma Pearson, PA News
A 26-year-old woman today began a £1 million compensation claim over a karate kick which left her with brain damage.
Kate Stratton, of Rhoose in the Vale of Glamorgan, was a keen member of a karate club at Barry Leisure Centre when she was injured during a class in February 1995.
The High Court, sitting in Cardiff, heard that the 5ft 2in tall 19-year-old was sparring with a male member of the class when she received a kick in the face.
Milwyn Jarman QC, representing Miss Stratton, said she remembers little of what happened but she was taken to hospital where doctors found she was drowsy, disorientated and had been slipping in and out of consciousness. Initially she could recall her full name but as her condition worsened her memory deteriorated until she could not remember her surname or her brothers' names, losing track of time and place.
The court heard that she also developed epilepsy following the kick and lost her ability to read and write.
Mr Jarman said: "The karate kick she received at the defendant's class at Barry Leisure Centre has left her an invalid for life."
Before the incident, the court heard that Miss Stratton was sporty and bright. She loved football and was a member of the Inter Cardiff Ladies Football Club.
A representative of the club described her as "a strong player" who was "very enthusiastic and keen to learn new skills".
She was also described to the court as "energetic and full of life".
The court heard in 1995 Miss Stratton was on the verge of completing a two-year BTEC qualification in nursery nursing, in which she had already achieved distinction.
When the course ended, she was due to go to the United States for a year to attend a college to pursue her interest in football and had also secured a job as a nanny.
Mr Jarman said: "She was extremely excited and optimistic about her future."
But after the karate kick a witness who had known Miss Stratton for 10 years said in a statement which was read to the court: "Since the accident even the smallest task is too much for her and often leaves her upset."
Miss Stratton spent nearly a year in hospital and has lived with her parents ever since.
The court heard that she has had to relearn basic skills such as reading and writing, but she still has difficulty with these tasks and still suffers memory loss.
Mr Jarman said it was thought she would be unlikely to ever hold down a permanent owing to the level of brain damage she had sustained.
Giving evidence, Miss Stratton said: "I wanted to go to America and while I was there play sport and then to come home and open up a nursery afterwards.
"It was something I always wanted to do because I enjoyed travel."
Seven years on, she is still receiving counselling to help her cope with her life after the incident.
Her karate instructor, Cliff Brown, was sued by Miss Stratton's parents Vi and John. He has agreed to pay 45% of the damages without admitting liability, but his representatives say her compensation should not be more than £2,000.
Opening the case, Mr Jarman said the accounts of what happened at the karate club differ, but that Mr Brown's official statement claims that his attention was diverted from Miss Stratton's fight by two students behind him. When he turned back the kick had been delivered and Miss Stratton's opponent was trying to hold her still because she wanted to carry on sparring.
The court hearing, due to last three days, will determine what level of damages Miss Stratton should receive.